Shortly after Son was born, in the middle of the greyest time of the year in Helsinki, Finland, my mother asked me if I ‘d ever thought that I wouldn’t have kids at all. She was holding him in her arms and Wife and I were getting ready for our first night out without the baby – “Finding Nemo”, a long story, will tell later – so I quickly just told her I hadn’t – because that was the truth.
It’s just that I hadn’t thought about having kids, either. I simply didn’t think much. When I was a teenager, and my buddies talked about their dream cars and dream girls, I sat in the sidelines, listening, because I didn’t have either.
And yet, somehow I ended up with my dream car – turns out it was a Volvo V50 – and the dreamiest of my dream girls, Wife. And with her, our dream children.
Son is about to turn twelve, and that’s about the age that I seem to have a lot of memories of. The idle but busy afternoons with friends, hockey games, tournaments, school, even individual conversations with buddies at school. If that’s true for Son as well, that also means that to him, I’ll probably always be the kind of man I am now.
If I stopped eating candy now, he’d grow up to tell his kids that his father never ate candy, just like to me, my father never was a smoker, although I know that he smoked a pipe when I was a toddler. (And frankly, I think I have a faint memory of the smell of pipe tobacco).
And that’s all right with me.
This past summer, Son attended a media school at the National Museum of Science and Technology. During the week, he and his friends interviewed visitors at the museum and each other, and went through all the technical stuff as they learned what it takes to put together a TV or a radio show.
At the end of the week, parents had a chance to join them at the museum and listen to their radio show. Son’s group had interviewed each other about the soccer World Cup: who their favorites were, and who they thought was going to win. Your classic sports radio interview, in other words.
He had mostly been working behind the scenes, pushing buttons and slides, but had also been in front of the microphone. I stood in the corner of the studio, Son sat on a chair a few meters from me, every once in a while glancing at me, as we waited for his interview to be played.
“What’s your favorite team?” asked the interviewer.
“I personally don’t really follow football. I think it’s silly,” I heard Son’s voice say in the speaker next to me.
The real-life Son looked at me and raised his eyebrows. I nodded back and smiled. On the tape, he kept talking about how he didn’t understand why people would want to run around a pitch and chase a ball, and I thought how much I had loved running after a ball.
“Maybe I’m just be the kind of guy who likes to sit in his room and read,” Son added.
The conversation turned to Justin Bieber and then onto what makes a good role model. The kids talked about Obama and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The last kid to answer the question was Son.
“Oh, well, my role models are my father and Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States of America who freed the slaves,” he said.
That was another thing I had never imagined seeing, and yet, there was Son, looking at me with a big smile on his face and giving me the thumbs-up.
I did the same.